On the morning after Halloween, the students at Lafayette Elementary School in Northwest Washington engaged in a tradition that would seem to challenge an essential tenet of childhood.
They gave their candy away.
Not all of it, certainly, but enough to add up to hundreds of pounds -- 500 was the count last year -- to donate to the Capital Area Food Bank, an organization that contributes to shelters, soup kitchens, nursing homes and faith-based organizations.
Kira Ullman, 10, a sixth-grader at the Chevy Chase D.C. school, brought in a bag of 22 candies, which she said amounts to roughly one-fifth of her haul on Halloween, when she dressed as a jar of pickles.
"I gave away things I didn't like," she said. "Chocolate malt balls. Snickers. I was never very fond of those. It's a fun way to get people to be more kind to less fortunate people."
The day after Halloween is always a bleary-eyed affair, with kids still riding memories of dressing up as Spider-Man and Batman and witches on a chocolate-happy night. But for parents, there are more practical concerns, none perhaps more prominent than what to do with all those sweets.
To shelter all those Tootsie Rolls and candy bars and lollipops is to foster competition for the chicken and spinach and carrots that moms and dads want their kids to eat.
"My son is already hyper enough," said Keisha Johnson, 27, an Alexandria mother of two, as she chased after Amir, her 1-year-old son. Johnson said she planned on taking the dregs of her kids' candy -- several bags worth -- to her local recreation center as soon as possible.
Della Stolsworth of Rockville, a part-time career counselor for Montgomery College, found herself sneaking into the room of her 7-year-old daughter, Miranda, late Sunday night to lift her cache of peanut butter cups and candy bars.
Stolsworth said she planned to give her daughter's "stash" away at the college's Career Carnival tomorrow.
"She just got like so much candy, such a hoard," Stolsworth said. "Her teeth would rot out if she ate all that."
Parents were not the only ones mindful of that prospect.
There are also dentists who are all too ready to serve new clients. "It brings us a lot of business. We love Halloween," said Ilana Zukerberg, an Adams Morgan dentist.
But Zukerberg is also the mother of Jesse, 4, and Eli, 2, so her glee was tempered. When it comes to her kids, Zukerberg said she gives them a single piece of candy in the morning and one at night until the stash runs out.
"If it's once a year, it's okay," she said. "If it's all the time, it can be bad."
The National Confectioners Association, which represents 700 candy companies and manufacturers, takes a sunnier position. The Halloween season, after all, generates $2 billion in business for the candy industry.
What to do with all that candy?
Susan Fussell, a spokeswoman for the association, suggests putting it aside for a special day.
"People have traditions. They take it to work. They take it to church. There are many things you can do," she said. "You can always save it for your gingerbread houses at Christmas."
Lynn Main, the principal at Lafayette, said that more than half of the school's 500 students participate in the "Great American Candy Weigh In," as the donation drive is known.
For the past decade, kids have shown up at the school in the days after Halloween with shopping bags full of candy, filling the hallways with the smell of chocolate.
Tomorrow, the school plans to weigh the load on a scale in the nurse's office before shipping it off to the food bank.
"There's a lot of candy around here right now," Main said.
But not enough to tempt her, not even for a moment. "I lost 20 pounds in the last year," she said. "I'm not going near the stuff."
Staff writer Leef Smith contributed to this report.